Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dojo Classics - Bubba Ho-Tep!


I'm late to this party I know, but I found a cheap copy of Bruce Campbell's Bubba Ho-Tep at my local Borders and it has become my new favorite movie. I've watched it a several times, with commentary and without, and I'm about ready for another viewing. This is a great flick, full of belly laughs, significant social commentary, and mummies!


The movie came out in 2002 sort of. The saga of getting this movie made and shown is a fascinating tale on its own. Joe Lansdale, a sometimes comic book writer, first wrote the long short story "Bubba Ho-Tep" many years ago for an Elvis anthology. Briefly it tells the story of an aging Elvis Presley stranded in an old folks home in East Texas and along with a black man who is convinced he's JFK, and together they confront an ancient misplaced mummy who lurks about the place sucking the souls of the helpless oldsters. The director Don Coscarelli got the movie going for very small money and created a wonder to behold, a true gem of a little film. Then he and Campbell literally carried it around showing it until it became a hit at film festivals, before getting some theater release.


Bruce Campbell is outstanding as the old Elvis, the late great Ossie Davis is magnificent as "Jack", and the other cast members do great work to sell this impossible scenario. The tone, the atmosphere of this movie are compelling. The score is magnificent despite having not a lick of Elvis music in it (too costly for this little flick) and the ending is pure schmaltz, too perfect to debate.


The special features on my copy are superb. There's a really good and insightful commentary by Campbell and Coscarelli, and another commentary by Elvis himself (Campbell in character as the King watching the movie for the first time, it's insanely funny all by itself).


This movie has been out there a long time. I've heard of it, but never ever seen it. I've been negligent and if you're like me, then you need to make a point to find and watch Bubba Ho-Tep the best "redemptive Elvis mummy movie" (to quote Campbell) around today!


There's a joke at the end of it about an upcoming movie called Bubba Nosferatu, and there has been an attempt to actually make it, but Campbell has said no, so it's no longer in the offing. I'd be afraid a sequel would take the bloom off this classic masterpiece of filmmaking. It's an exquisite movie.

Why this hasn't been adapted to comics I'll never know. It seems a natural.


UPDATE: While the movie Bubba Ho-Tep has not been adapted to comics still, Joe Lansdale has written a prequel featuring Elvis which hit the stands just yesterday. I didn't coordinate this re-post by the way, it's just a fluke. I didn't get the debut issue of Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers but I will likely get any trade from the folks at IDW.

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4 comments:

  1. Bought this movie on DVD a few years back and thought it was excellent. Well worth seeing.

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    1. I concur. See Bubba Ho-Tep folks.

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  2. Speaking of library book sales (as Chimeradave mentioned yesterday) – I was lucky enough to fine myself a copy of The Best of Joe R. Lansdale (2005) at my own local library just recently. Much enjoyed the Bubba Ho-Tep story (had been preceded by Godzilla’s 12-Step Program.) I have not yet seen the movie but I’m thinking I need to order this tomorrow when I get paid. Also, speaking of Joe. R. Lansdale, I recently realized Netflix is currently running their adaptation of Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard. I’m only a few episodes in but it’s quite quirky and enjoyable so far. Hap are Leonard are a series Lansdale has written for some years revolving around 2 working class Texans who get involved in very strange adventures. A white guy and a black guy – their friendship seems to be as quirky as their tales. Lansdale is beyond excellent in everything he writes. I’ve also read his Drive-In novels after discovering him for myself shortly after he had written Two Gun Mojo (Jonah Hex) for Vertigo.

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    1. I picked up that Best of volume for the Godzilla story myself, it's a hoot. I'm a fan of Hap and Leonard, watched the first series, but missed the second. The third is on my DVR right now waiting for summer to find the time to enjoy it. Lansdale is an American treasure, a specific and rude treasure to be sure.

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